Calls made for safe drug consumption facilities after discarded needles reach 10 year high

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Jemima Huston
Reporter

Council figures reveal 802 reports of drug related items in Glasgow’s public spaces.

The number of reports of discarded needles and drug equipment in Glasgow has reached a decade high, according to Glasgow City Council figures.

Last year city residents made 802 reports of drug-related items in public spaces, whichwere addressed by the council’s rapid response team.

In 2012, 747 reports were made, numbers dropped to 385 in 2015 but have since risen to 802 in 2019. There is some speculation that increased public awareness may have caused an increase in reporting, however, it may also reflect an ongoing drug use issue in Glasgow.

Local research suggests that around 500 people who inject drugs are regularly injecting in public places in the city centre. Although the public health risk posed by discarded needles is low according to the Scottish Drugs Forum, there are currently no options for people to inject drugs safely in public.

A spokesperson for the Glasgow City Council said a safe drug consumption facility would ensure drug equipment is disposed of in a clean environment and is treated as clinical waste.

The UK government recently rejected a proposal to establish a safe drug consumption facility in Glasgow. However, the Scottish government, the local council, experts on harm reduction and drug users continue to advocate for a facility to be introduced.

A Scottish conference on drug use in Glasgow led by people with lived experience has been

Announced for 26 February by the Scottish Government and the Glasgow City Council. Sessions will include contributions from Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick, training in the use of Naloxone, which reverses the effect of an opioid overdose, and a demonstration model of a safer drug consumption facility.

FitzPatrick said he wants the conference to highlight Scottish views on future drug reform in the UK. FitzPatrick said: “It’s clear the Misuse of Drugs Act is no longer fit for purpose. To enable innovations, such as a safer drug consumption facility, the law needs to change. We hope the UK Government will listen to the call from Scotland to make the necessary changes in the law to allow this to happen”.

The event will be held at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow and will inform Scottish input to the UK Drugs Summit on Thursday 27 February at the same venue.

Currently, anyone can report discarded drug paraphernalia using the Glasgow City Council website. The resource also provides advice about what you should do if you find a needle in a public place, such as not touching it or putting it in a bin.